Little Boots: Hands


RIYL: Annie, Kylie Minogue, The Ting Tings

You have to admire the tenacity of UK pop stars. They keep trying to crack the American market, even though most of them are met with the equivalent of a hair tousle and a cheek pinch. “Oh, you’re so cute. Keep on trying, you’ll get there.” Of course, most of them never get there, and of the few that do, many owe it to their ill-gotten celebrity status (Amy, meet drugs; Lily, meet topless photos) as much if not more than their music, but you have to think that if anyone is going to buck this trend, it’s Little Boots, the solo pseudonym for former Dead Disco member Victoria Hesketh. For starters, look at her.

Little_Boots_01

Yep, she’s gorgeous, and her debut album Hands is stuffed to the gills with perky dance song after perky dance song not unlike a certain Ms. Gaga, though there are varying degrees of quality. “New in Town” is one of those earworm-type songs that will own your soul, “Stuck on Repeat” playfully tweaks the “I Feel Love” keyboard line, and she winks knowingly to her synth-pop predecessors by tapping the Human League’s Phil Oakey for a duet on “Symmetry.” She’s not blessed with the strongest set of pipes, but then again, neither is Madonna, and her voice is at least as good as, say, Lady Gaga, Rihanna or Katie from the Ting Tings. And with a hook like the chorus to “Remedy,” vocal power is almost beside the point.

Still, the bias against UK pop in the States is a strong one – ask Robbie Williams. Hands should be a hit on both sides of the pond, but any music fan will tell you that there are lots of albums that should have been hits. Will Little Boots be one of them? Who the hell knows, but there is enough here to entertain the question. (Elektra 2010)

Little Boots MySpace page

  

21st Century Breakdown: David Medsker’s Songs of the 2000s

I used to have a thing about my musical tastes. I so desperately wanted them to be cool, or at the very least be something that only a handful of people were privy to. (I was tempted to say ‘hip’ instead of ‘privy,’ but you can’t spell ‘hipster’ without ‘hip,’ and God knows I’m not hip enough to be a hipster.) My friend Kathi, she has obscenely cool taste in music. I’m surprised she’s friends with me, since I surely bring her cool factor down by a good 20 points.

Then a couple of years ago, I realized – who the hell cares? A great song is a great song, and it doesn’t really matter how popular – or unpopular – it is. I can’t tell you how freeing that was, and I have a very well-known blogger to thank for it. When she admitted to me in private how much she enjoyed a band at Lollapalooza, only to dismiss them a few days later in her column, I realized that it was completely pointless to pander to hipster elitism. You’re being dishonest with yourself, and the hipsters are only going to turn on you in the end, anyway.

So I turned a blind eye to what was a pop song versus what was a “pop” song, as it were, and realizing that there was no distinction between the two made everything soooooo much easier. So here we are in 2009, and as part of our recap of the best music the decade had to offer, I have to try to apply this whole revisionist history viewpoint to the entire decade, which is no mean feat, to say the least. It therefore makes sense that assembling one big-ass list of songs will look like the work of someone with multiple personalities, so instead they are cut up into bite-sized lists for easier consumption, with YouTube links for the uninitiated.

Top 10 Modern Rock Songs of the 2000s
10. “Do You Want To,” Franz Ferdinand
“Take Me Out” was the bigger hit, but this song swings like Austin Powers in the jungle. Nice riff on “My Sharona” in the break, too.

9. “Galvanize,” Chemical Brothers
Push the button; shake that booty.

8. “The Bleeding Heart Show,” The New Pornographers
What the world needs now, is more hey la, hey la’s.

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7. “Sometime Around Midnight,” Airborne Toxic Event
Suck it, Pitchfork. These guys are good. You’re just too far up your own asses to admit it.

6. “American Idiot,” Green Day
The only sad thing about this song is that Joey Ramone didn’t live long enough to hear it.

5. “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor,” Arctic Monkeys
I love the way these guys riff on Duran Duran lyrics, and then act as if they made it all up themselves. As the old adage says, talent borrows, but genius steals. And for the record, we don’t care for sand, either.

4. “Chelsea Dagger,” The Fratellis
Best drunken barroom chorus since “Tubthumping.”

3. “Laura,” Scissor Sisters
For all the progress that was made this decade in terms of hip hop and black culture becoming more accepted on pop radio, it appears that the gays still have a long road ahead of them. Pity.

2. “Never Miss a Beat,” Kaiser Chiefs
They opened their set at Lollapalooza with this. The only other band to grab me by the throat like that with their opening song is, well, My #1…

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1. “Knights of Cydonia,” Muse
September 11, 2006, Columbus, Ohio. Muse opens their set with this song, blows the roof off the place.

Top 10 Pop Songs of the 2000s
10. “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” Kylie Minogue
Proof that even the most alt of alt rockers love Kylie: The Flaming Lips covered this song.

9. “Drops of Jupiter,” Train
They did a great job recreating the Elton John sound. Too bad they didn’t have Bernie Taupin write the lyrics. Fried chicken? Ugh.

8. “Music,” Madonna
I watched this song take one of those sports bars that has basketball courts and bowling alleys, and turn every one of its patrons into dancing fools.

7. “Is It Any Wonder?,” Keane
Dogged by some for its similarity to U2, but when was the last time U2 wrote something this bouncy?

6. “Shut Up and Let Me Go,” The Ting Tings
I’ll shut up, Katie, but there’s no way I’m letting you go.

5. “Chasing Pavements,” Adele
It took two Grammy wins for this song to finally crack the Top 40. (*shakes head in disbelief*)

4. “Hey Ya,” Outkast
Andre 3000 finally picks up a guitar to write a song, and this, THIS, is the first thing that comes out. Mother, fucker.

3. “Crazy,” Gnarls Barkley
When my mom comes home from a trip to see my brother on the east coast and tells me about a song she heard by a band whose name is similar to some celebrity or other, I know that said celebrity knockoff band has struck a chord.

2. “99 Problems,” Jay-Z
“You crazy for this one, Rick!” Actually, Jay-Z, you have it the other way around. You crazy if you make this song with anyone other than Rick Rubin.

1. “Umbrella,” Rihanna
It was at least a year before I made the effort to find out what the hubub was about this damn “Umbrella” song. And then I heard it. Holy shit, this song pisses genius.

Big in the UK
7. “LDN,” Lily Allen
No guy wants to hear his ex tell the world what a lousy lover he is, but is there a man alive that doesn’t want a shot at Lily Allen?

6. “Nearer Than Heaven,” Delays
My favorite new musical expression of the decade: skyscraper, used to describe a song with soaring melodies. And this puppy’s the Empire State Building.

5. “Boyfriend,” Alphabeat
That this album didn’t even see the light of day in the States shows just how myopic our views of pop music have become.

4. “Digital Love,” Daft Punk
Keytar!

3. “Plug It In,” Basement Jaxx featuring J.C. Chasez
Come on, bang that head in the chorus. You know you want to.

2. “Never Be Lonely,” The Feeling
B-b-b-baby, this song is c-c-c-crazy catchy.

1. “Kids,” Robbie Williams & Kylie Minogue
Another song I thought had a shot at cracking the US charts. Funky verses, slammin’ choruses, what’s not to love? Robbie Williams, apparently. He never gained the traction here that other UK singers did. Strange.

Best Pop Songs You Never Heard
Of course, you probably have heard most of these songs, but I didn’t have another category to place them in, so they’re going here instead.

“Nice,” Duran Duran
Easily the band’s best song since “Ordinary World” and “Come Undone.” Anyone who likes Rio but has since given up on the band, go listen to this at once.

“I Believe She’s Lying,” Jon Brion
Los Angeles’ resident mad genius of pop finally gets his 1997 album Meaningless released in early 2001. Power pop fans proceed to lose their minds. And can you blame them? Listen to that drum track. It’s like the piano solo to “In My Life,” gone drum ‘n bass.

“Mine and Yours,” David Mead
If the video I linked to is any indicator, this was a big hit with the Japanese karaoke crowd. Go figure.

“She’s Got My Number,” Semisonic
Where an otherwise straightforward pop band goes off the deep end into delicious, melancholy strangeness. One of my bigger interview thrills was getting to tell Dan Wilson how much I loved this song.

“My Name Is Love,” Rob Dickinson
Catherine Wheel singer turns down the distortion, ramps up the harmonies. Again, the word ‘skyscraper’ comes to mind.

“Can We Still Be Friends?,” Mandy Moore
Dan Wilson reference #2: he sings backing vocals on this shockingly good Todd Rundgren cover. People have scoffed at the notion of Ryan Adams marrying someone like Mandy. Not me.

“io (This Time Around),” Helen Stellar
Let it not be said that nothing good came from “Elizabethtown,” as it introduced me to this beautifully spacey song.

“Buildings and Mountains,” Republic Tigers
Truly a band out of time, which is exactly why I love them. I wonder if the reason A-ha is breaking up is because they heard this song and thought, “Damn, they do us better than we do.”

“The End of the World,” Gin Blossoms
Most bands that take 11 years between albums come back as a pale imitation of their former selves, but the Gin Blossoms’ 2006 album Major Lodge Victory was a damn fine little record. This one appeals to my not-so-inner Beatlemaniac.

“Fragile,” Kerli
This Estonian princess is an odd little bird, but that’s what I like about her. This ballad closes her debut album with quite the quiet storm.

“Road to Recovery,” Midnight Juggernauts
Another band whose lack of success has me scratching my head. It’s the best dance album Peter Murphy never made, or the best rock album Daft Punk never made, one of the two. Or both.

My sincere apologies to the following bands, who also deserve mention:
Divine Comedy, Noisettes, Pet Shop Boys, Doves, Rialto, Beck, White Stripes, Rufus Wainwright, Kenna, Mylo, Pete Yorn, Apples in Stereo, Hard-Fi, The Thorns, Rock Kills Kid, The Hours, Derek Webb, Glen Hansard, Aimee Mann, Kirsty MacColl, Gorillaz, Air, Charlotte Sometimes, Mika, Def Leppard, Coldplay, Chicane, Elastica, XTC, and about 50 others.

  

Ron Wood arrested on suspicion of domestic abuse

Wood

Police officers in Esher, Surrey, responding to reports of a “domestic incident,” arrested 62 year-old guitarist Ron Wood at his home on Claygate High Street. Witnesses claim they saw the Rolling Stones member choking his 20 year-old Russian girlfriend, Ekaterina Ivanova.

Celine Dixon told The Sun that she and her boyfriend, Phillip Legge, witnessed the incident outside an Indian restaurant at around 11.30pm.

She said: “We heard a woman screaming, then saw a man pinning her to the ground.

“He was shouting at her then we heard choking sounds so my boyfriend rushed out to help. When he got outside he saw it was Ronnie and Ekaterina.”
Miss Dixon added that Wood let Miss Ivanova go and walked away when challenged by Mr Legge.

The couple then escorted Miss Ivanova back to their home before calling police, she said.

A spokesman for Wood, David Rigg of Project Associates, said: “I can confirm that there was an incident (on Wednesday night) and that Ronnie Wood was arrested. He has since been released on police bail.

“We have no further statement to make at this time.”

Wood began his affair with Ivanova in July of last year. After 23 years of marriage, he left his wife Jo for the young Russian.

  

MTV to proceed with DJ AM reality show

AM

MTV has decided to air DJ AM’s reality show “Gone Too Far,” which wrapped production shortly before his tragic death in August. The eight-episode series will follow DJ AM as he aids drug addicts on their path to sobriety.

DJ AM knew all too well about the daily struggle of drug addiction. The late celebrity spinner (born Adam Goldstein), who died of an accidental drug overdose in August at age 36, spent his last few months filming an MTV series called “Gone Too Far,” in which he spoke candidly about his own addiction, his 11 years of sobriety and his desire to help other young addicts overcome their demons.

Now, with the consent and support of AM’s family, MTV will begin airing the eight-episode documentary series on Monday, October 12. The one-hour show will air at 10 p.m. ET/PT and chronicle the lives of young addicts, ages 20-25, who are offered a chance at recovery.

DJ AM was killed by what police are calling an “accidental overdose.” It’s strange to think that just under a year ago he and Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker survived a plane crash that killed four people. Unfortunately, DJ AM was unable to escape death twice.

  

Kanye makes the most out of “The Jay Leno Show” premiere

If all else fails, cry. As a child, the tactic isn’t a guaranteed success, but as an adult it often works wonders. When somebody cries, especially in front of you, it’s nearly impossible to avoid considering their point of view. Kanye West wanted people to believe he was sorry for what he did to Taylor Swift (or, he just wanted people to like him again) and he resorted to the strategy in front of a large TV audience. Hats off to Jay Leno for giving him this opportunity during the comedian’s big premiere. I doubt “The Jay Leno Show” will often venture into these emotional forays, but that wouldn’t be a bad idea. The new program is virtually the same as the “Tonight Show” was under Leno’s reign. That’s why I’d love to see random appearances and pairings of musicians Leno’s made friends with over the years. As a reward for his loyalty, NBC should give Jay some freedom. Did Leno really want Jay-Z as his first musical guest? I doubt it.

Back to Kanye. Since I’ve never had any opinion on the hip-hopper, I’ve been able to take in this whole situation objectively. This whole catastrophe actually arose from a feeling we’ve all had at some point or another: the inability to sit idly by while witnessing something wrong. Kanye’s actions on Sunday stemmed from his passion for an ideal society where quality music is recognized. He’s openly stated in the past that he feels awards shows are rigged. He’s completely right as far as the VMAs are concerned, but a single celebrity’s “stand” is not going change the show forever. Kanye willingly became part of the MTV system when he agreed to enter his music videos and perform at the VMAs in the past. Yes, Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” video was much “better” than Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me.” Kanye felt this was an injustice. In terms of art, Beyonce was slighted, but considering this was the MTV Video Music Awards, nothing was out of whack. In his off-the-cuff interview on “The Jay Leno Show,” Kanye says his “dream of what awards shows are supposed to be” in effect caused Taylor Swift’s pain. Given his talent and prior statements, I believe him. But Kanye, these were the VMAs, put on by MTV. You’ve been around for some time now — you know how the game works. Next time you want to make a public statement about the music industry, think it through beforehand. I’m not saying the message needs to be appropriate, but the time and setting better be.

  

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